Foundation for Pale Skin | Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturising Foundation in Alabaster Review

Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturising Foundation in Alabaster

If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, then:

a) You’re probably one of my parents. Hi guys! Dad, you might want to skip this one: it’s about makeup, and I don’t mention you at all. Other than this one time, obviously.

b) You’re also probably aware of the fact that beauty companies like to spite me by working out which products I absolutely cannot live without, and then immediately discontinuing them, thus forcing me to, you know, LIVE WITHOUT THEM. GOD.

As a result of this sad state of affairs (Point 2, I mean), last year Bobbi Brown got wind of the fact that their ‘Alabaster’ foundation shade (The palest shade they do, available across their entire foundation range) was the best match I’d ever found for my skin… so, naturally, they discontinued it in the UK. Instantly. I’m pretty sure someone got fired for not realising sooner, actually. I mean, HEAVEN FORBID that pale people in the UK actually get to buy foundation that suits them, huh?

But! All was not lost! Well, I mean, it kinda was, to be honest. “Alabaster” was still available in the US, but because of laws designed to protect us from terrorists, and also to prevent us from buying the perfect foundation for our skin tones, there aren’t any US retailers willing to ship it here, and trust me, I’ve looked. That foundation was not to be had for love nor money, (Actually, it probably CAN be had for money, I expect. I mean, I bet if you’re Richard Branson, or the Queen, or someone like that, you could get yourself hooked up with some Alabaster foundation if you really wanted it. And once again I find myself cursing the fact that I was not born into Royalty. SO UNFAIR.), so there was nothing for it:

I would have to go to America.

And so I did.

foundation for pale skin

I mean, I didn’t go JUST for the foundation. That would be a bit extreme even for me. But while I was in Miami this summer, I swung by the Bobbi Brown counter, ready to stock up.

This is where it all started to go wrong.

You see, my Bobbi Brown ‘Alabaster’ foundation of choice had been the Natural Finish Long Lasting Foundation, which I loved, and was totally happy with. Because I am stupid, though, rather than simply stocking up on that, I decided that THIS time I would go for a completely different type of foundation. I mean, why invest your hard-earned cash on a sure thing, when you can take a risk on a totally unknown quantity instead? And, after all, it was the COLOUR that was the important thing here, so as long as the foundation I purchased was in the much-coveted ‘Alabaster’ shade, I’d be golden. Well, Alabaster. You know what I mean,

This decision wasn’t quite as random as it probably sounds. Don’t get me wrong, it was still pretty ill-advised, but the thing is, before ‘Alabaster’ was discontinued, I’d been on a bit of a mission to try out every variation of it, to see which one I liked best. It was a pretty dull excuse for a project, sure, but it was one I had committed myself to, and I WOULD see it through, dammit. Also, my skin at that point was looking rather lacklustre, to say the least. I’m lucky in that I don’t really get a lot of breakouts, but I’d been under a lot of stress, and I hadn’t been eating or sleeping particularly well, so it was looking a bit dull and tired. What I needed was something to make it look a little bit… dewy. A little bit fresh. A little bit luminous. In fact, let’s cut to the chase: what I needed was Bobbi Brown’s Luminous Moisturising Foundation, I decided. So that’s what I bought. In ‘Alabaster’, obviously. And I may as well just ‘fess up here and admit that I committed the cardinal sin of make-up purchasing, and I bought it without testing it first, because I thought I knew exactly what I was getting. (Also because the girls at the Lancome counter across the aisle were staring at me as if I had three heads, and it was making me so uncomfortable I just wanted to get out of there, STAT.) (Also because when I went to pay for it, I realised I’d left my wallet at home, and I had to hit Terry up for the cash, and then also explain to him WHY a tiny bottle of makeup costs SO DAMN MUCH.) (He had to pay for dinner that night, too. I should leave my wallet at home more often.)

Now, this foundation offers light to medium coverage, and is designed to make the skin “glow”. I normally go for something with much higher, matte coverage, but as I said, my skin wasn’t looking its best, and I find that heavy foundation can actually accentuate that rather than hide it sometimes, so I figured something lightweight and dewy might be a better bet. I was wrong about this, obviously. I mean, there’s a reason I normally go for matte foundations, and the reason is that I AM SHINY. Oh, so very shiny. Only on the forehead, though. The rest of my face is relatively normal in terms of shine, but my forehead does have a tendency to look a bit, er “dewy” sometimes, and while we’re on the subject, that’s ALSO one of the reasons I keep toying with the idea of a fringe. But anyway!

This foundation looks great on the cheeks, then: it does, indeed, create a nice, “luminous” glow, and the kind of fresh, dewy complexion I’ve always dreamt of. On the forehead, on the other hand? SHINY. Way too shiny. I don’t normally use face powder, but I have to use it with this, or I’ll spend the day looking like I’m feeling really guilty about something, and have broken into a cold sweat as a result. It’s not good.

The coverage, meanwhile, is… OK. It’s much lighter than I’m used to, but I knew that would be the case, and on the plus side, it’s easy to apply and blend, and it looks natural on the skin (Other than on the forehead, obviously). It’s also pretty long-lasting: I haven’t ever needed to re-apply it or touch it up once it’s on, and it lasts all day without flaking, fading, or starting to slide off the skin. Honestly, on someone with dryer skin than mine, I think it would be pretty near perfect… if it weren’t for the colour.

This Alabaster, you see, is not the same as the Alabaster I’m used to. I don’t have any of my Natural Finish foundation left to compare it to, but as soon as I started to apply this for the first time, I felt like it was both darker and yellower than I was expecting:

Bobbi Brown Alabaster foundation swatch

Hmmmm. Without another ‘Alabaster’ to compare it to, I swatched it against my MAC Studio Fix in NW10 instead, and here are the results:

MAC NW10 vs Bobbi Brown Alabaster -pale foundations

pale foundation swatches: MAC NW10 vs Bobbi Brown Alabaster

As you can (hopefully) see, the Bobbi Brown foundation is actually the darker of the two. This surprised me, because although I’ve never compared them side by side, I’d have said the MAC product was a little darker than the previous Bobbi Brown I was using. It’s both lighter and less yellow than this one, though, and although Bobbi Brown foundations are notoriously yellow toned, my last one wasn’t at all, so I wasn’t really expecting this one to be, either. When I apply it, though, I definitely notice the yellow in it, and although it’s not pronounced enough to prevent me using up the rest of the bottle (Well, I DID travel 2,000 miles for it, after all…) it would prevent me buying this particular product again. Assuming it was actually available here, that is. Ahem.

To be perfectly honest, I was almost relieved by this revelation. Any time I write about products that have been discontinued, I get a lot of recommendations for alternatives that are only available in America, and which I COULD probably buy, but only if I was willing to spend hours trawling the internet (Or buying from eBay sellers who only have one bottle in stock, meaning that once it’s gone, I have to start the whole tedious process again). I’m far too lazy for that kind of thing, and it’s been a bit of a pain this past year thinking that my perfect foundation shade was tantalizingly out of reach, so it was actually a bit of a relief to know that the shade I’ve been searching for isn’t actually any better than the MAC foundation which is readily available. And which is also cheaper, now I come to think of it.

Looks like it’s back to MAC for me, then!